NBA Gameday: Warriors visit Rockets looking to avenge early-season loss

NBA Gameday: Warriors visit Rockets looking to avenge early-season loss

Four days after avenging one of their six losses, the Warriors get another chance for revenge on an opponent that knocked them off last month.

This time, it’s the Rockets, who greet the Warriors Friday night at Toyota Center. After evening their season series with the Cavaliers on Monday, the Warriors will seek to do the same in Houston.

The Warriors (36-6) have won five in a row, averaging nearly 120 points per game behind a more aggressive Stephen Curry.

The Rockets (33-12) have been the surprise team of the league this season. Generally projected to win between 42 and 48 games, they are on pace to win 60.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 5.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: In his first season as an officially designated point guard Harden has been playing at MVP level. He leads the league in assists and has been a top-3 scorer all season. Thompson’s defense is not as consistently solid as in previous seasons. He knows Harden well, dating back to their days as prep stars in Southern California and fully understands he’ll have to bring his best, while also getting help from his teammates.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C/F David West (L thumb fracture) is listed as out.

Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (flu) is listed as questionable.

LAST 10

Warriors: 9-1. Rockets: 7-3.

SERIES HISTORY

The Rockets prevailed in the first meeting this season, 132-127 in double overtime, on Dec. 1, but the Warriors have won nine of the last 12 overall. The Warriors have won the last four meetings in Houston.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE FIREWORKS: The Warriors and Rockets rank 1-2 in points and also true-shooting percentage. Houston launches a league-high 40 3-pointers per game. The Warriors, at 30.6, are tied for fifth. If the clubs stay true to form, that’s 71 triples. Don’t go near the scoreboard unless you want to get burned.

THE GIVEAWAYS: Insofar as both teams tend to give it up -- only four teams commit more turnovers than these two -- they could offset each other here. Both fire threes in transition. The crucial element is live-ball turnovers, as a decided advantage goes to the team that exploits them best.

THE BENCHES: Over the last 10 games, Shaun Livingston is shooting 66 percent and Andre Iguodala is at 63.6. They will need to continue their offensive efficiency to overcome the loss of David West while also neutralizing Sixth Man of the Year leader Eric Gordon, who leads the league in 3-pointers.

NBA Gameday: Kings begin life without Gay against Grizzlies

NBA Gameday: Kings begin life without Gay against Grizzlies

The Sacramento Kings begin their eight-game road trip Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies and they’ll have to do it without the services of Rudy Gay. Sacramento’s starting small forward went down in the third quarter of the Kings’ loss to the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night and will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. 

Gay isn’t the only ailing player for the Kings. Omri Casspi is out 1-2 weeks with a strained calf muscle, leaving coach Dave Joerger shorthanded at the wing position. Joerger has used Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes and Ben McLemore at the three and will need someone to step forward and help pick up the slack without Gay’s 18.7 points per game. 

Memphis has hit a rough patch in their schedule. The Grizzlies have dropped three of their last four games, including two straight, but they are still tied for the sixth spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. Rookie head coach David Fizdale has a veteran group that coach Joerger knows well after coaching in Memphis the previous three seasons.  

OPENING LINE 

Grizzlies by 6.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marc Gasol -- Cousins has carried plenty of weight for the Kings this season, but his team is going to need even more from the big fella with the loss of Gay. Cousins is averaging a career-best 4.4 assists and over his last three games, he’s posted a whopping 9.3 dimes per game. Gasol is having his best scoring season of his nine-year career, leading the Grizzlies at 19.6 points per game. Like Cousins, Gasol can really move the ball and he’s added the 3-point shot to his game this season.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 16-25, third place in Pacific
Grizzlies: 25-19, third place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SF Rudy (left Achilles tendon) out for the season, SF Omri Casspi (calf strain) out, PG Ty Lawson (left ankle) questionable.
Grizzlies: F Brandan Wright (ankle) out, F Deyonta Davis (foot) questionable.

SERIES HISTORY 

These two clubs have split the season series 1-1, with each team picking up a win on the road. The Kings hold a 44-36 record against the Grizzlies all-time.  

QUOTE

“We’ve got an eight game road trip, we’ve got to come together closer and closer, not drift apart.” Ty Lawson following the loss of Rudy Gay